The Complete Guide for How to Choose a Mobile App Development Company
Milo Mobile helps mid-size companies and mobile developers of all skill levels navigate the tech “Sea of Knowledge” through mentorship, education, and custom mobile-focused solutions.
With the right mobile app, the possibilities for customer engagement are nearly endless. Done right, it can direct millions of eyeballs to your business, and convert those eyeballs into paying customers who contribute to your revenue for years to come. But knowing that you need a mobile app is just the first step. The second is knowing how to choose a mobile app development company that can help to bring your vision to life.
The global mobile app market continues to accelerate. Already at a $206 billion value last year, experts project it will grow nearly 15% every year through 2030. From exciting new startups to established enterprises that need to move into the mobile environment, everyone seems to need an app that makes them stand apart—and the right tech partner to build it.
Of course, not all mobile apps are created equal. The difference between success and failure comes down to the right idea, strategy, and knowing how to find a partner that can build what both you and your customers need. Finding a mobile app developer is easy, but finding an expert who can create an app that users can't wait to use is a much bigger challenge.
You may be an entrepreneur with a great mobile business idea, but no expertise to build it. Or you might represent an enterprise that needs to transition or deepen your mobile presence. All that's missing is a technical partner who can help you move from vision to daily business reality.
But how do you choose? How can you find the right partner from literally thousands of options? Use this guide as your roadmap to finding the right mobile application developer, then get started on building an experience your customers will embrace.
How to Choose a Mobile App Development Company That's Right For You
It's impossible to put an exact number on it, but there are thousands of mobile app development companies offering their services in the U.S. alone. Finding the right option from that number can be daunting, especially once you add in the cheap services provided by offshore developers.
The key, of course, is not finding a decent mobile app developer who can produce a product. It's finding the app developer that's best for you—and, even more importantly, best for your users. They need to be able to embrace your vision, and they can't be shy about sharing their own experienced and professional knowledge to help guide the process. Transparency is key, and so is the opportunity to partner beyond the launch of the app.
It's a complex process, but it's far from impossible to follow. In fact, knowing how to choose a mobile app development company is as simple as following these 9 steps.
Step 1: Look for Established Expertise
The base-level qualifier in finding an app development partner should always be expertise. Put simply, you don't want to be the first project of a company just starting out and trying to make a name for itself.
Instead, look for a developer with experience that overlaps your needs. Potential partners who have built apps in your industry or focused on your audience are at a natural advantage. It's even better if you can find client reviews and case studies that emphasize that expertise on a deeper level than empty claims on a website.
Prioritize app development companies that embrace bringing their clients into the project. The more easily they're able to walk you through the development process and show you how their expertise, the more your app decisions will translate into consistent usage and happy users.
Step 2: Limit Your Geographic Options
Startups with limited budgets tend to be intrigued by offshore app development. And sure enough, you will find some offshore developers who are cheaper than their domestic counterparts without compromising quality.
But you'll still run into issues. Language and time barriers, along with a potential lack of transparency, can get in the way of building an app your users love. If you add the potential lack of experience and quality that can be a risk with offshore developers into the equation, you have a recipe for frustration.
Instead, limit yourself to app developers working in the U.S. The price you pay upfront will pay off multi-fold down the road. If that developer is located in a technological hotspot like New York City or San Francisco, where they'll naturally pick up on the most recent mobile trends, all the better.
Step 3: Avoid the Enabling Developer
Don't look for a mobile app development company that will give you what you're asking for. Instead, look for a partner who is willing to push back in order to give you what you need and what your customers value.
It might be tempting to go with a company that simply says "yes" to all of your requests. But part of the development process has to include embracing the unknown, which also means acknowledging that the development experience you're hiring should have a seat at the ideation and strategy table.
The best mobile app developers use their expertise to help their clients at every possible level. They have worked on enough similar projects to know the necessities for success and the potential pitfalls. That allows them to save time and money while building the best possible app. They'll suggest the best possible route, even if it's not the one the client walked in the door with. They might suggest alternative designs and functionalities, too.
It's all about what the user wants. The average mobile user only has 40 apps installed at a given time, and competition to join that select number is fierce. Your app has to provide more value than the millions of alternatives in the app store to join the group.
The reason for that is simple: in order for an app to be successful, it must offer features that are valuable to customers. It must also overcome the many hurdles facing today's ocean of mobile apps--from unclear branding to bad UX and a limited initial audience.
You need expert help to overcome those hurdles, and working with the right app developer means learning how to clear them. If you can find a partner who can and will provide active input throughout the process, your chances of developing an application your users love will increase exponentially.
Step 4: Prioritize Transparency
Avoid any app developers that become a black box as soon as they know the goals of the project. The ideal process is collaborative, with consistent communication between both sides of the partnership to ensure that the development process stays on track in terms of both outcomes and schedule.
As you choose between app development companies, ask how they plan to accomplish this transparency. Look for answers that prioritize ongoing, high-touch client communication, like regular check-ins to keep everyone on the same page. Perhaps not surprisingly, transparency about their plans to be transparent can say a lot about the company's commitment to keeping you in the loop.
Step 5: Gravitate Toward Agile Development
You may or may not be familiar with agile development, which originated in software development but has since spread to other business areas like marketing, project management, and more. When it comes to building apps, developers who work in an agile mindset have a crucial advantage.
Agile describes the process of making app development more iterative. Instead of a big band delivery at the end of a project, several small and parallel sprints lead to ongoing progress with check-ins that are frequent enough to adjust as needed. Quicker feedback, the ability to adjust on the fly, and pivoting as needed drastically increase the chances of the end product meeting core business goals.
Related: How We Work and Why We Choose Agile
Step 6: Integrate With Your Existing Capabilities
Every client brings something to the table. Part of determining how to choose a mobile app development company is learning how you can integrate your existing expertise with your future partner's capabilities.
You might have an existing IT or development team but just need some specific expertise to fill in the gaps, like Android app development. You might have some background research and knowledge that a developer can draw on. Or you might not have any existing tech help and need a comprehensive partner to get the job done.
The key is finding a mobile app development partner who can integrate with whatever existing tech capabilities you bring to the table. The idea is not to recreate expertise you already have, but to add to it in order to build the best app possible for your audience.
Step 7: Emphasize User Experience
Make no mistake: The best mobile apps are those that your users just can't stop using. They're simple, visually attractive, and intuitive to navigate, all while helping anyone who downloads them accomplish core goals and solve pain points. To get to this place, you need an app development partner that looks beyond the code and toward excellent user experience.
You might already be familiar with the concepts of user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design. It describes a process that is optimized toward solving core user problems in an attractive, intuitive interface. In other words, every part of the app development process revolves around your audience.
That might mean developing a minimum viable product for initial audience testing. It also makes agile development that much more relevant, thanks to its continuous testing and incremental improvement capability. The endpoint should be an app that your users love to use, which a developer with a UX focus is more likely to accomplish.
Step 8: Build an Ongoing Partnership
The app launch is the natural milestone to work toward in the development process. But ideally, it's far from the end of the partnership with the app development company you choose.
Once launched, you'll need to consider maintaining the app to keep it relevant and usable for your audience. That might mean fixing bugs or developing new features. This maintenance, of course, becomes much smoother if done with the company that developed the first version of your app to begin with. Look for a company that embraces this type of ongoing partnership.
Step 9: Choose the Right Price Match
It seems obvious to state that developing an app costs money. The key, though, is how your budget for creating the app your audience needs can align with the resources your app development company needs to build it.
Especially in agile development, the process of creating the app is flexible. If you're on a budget, you can leverage that flexibility by finding a partner who can work within that budget to still create the right app. They might even save you time in the process.
For example, if you're on a low budget, you might decide to have your developer create only low-res wireframes, high-res designs, quick prototypes, and a tech plan that you can execute internally. The right partner can even recommend low-cost options for the execution and help you with tips on what to look for to be most successful.
Find a True Mobile App Development Partner With Milo Mobile
Don't think of app development as a simple one-time service, to be provided with minimum friction. Instead, approach it like you would approach any long-term business partnership, in which goals align to serve your audience as effectively and efficiently as possible.
That's where Milo Mobile enters the equation. We pride ourselves on not just developing great apps but becoming a true partner to every client we work with. We're not afraid to speak out and provide guidance throughout the process, maximizing the chances of building an app your audience will love. Ready to learn more? Book a free 30-minute consultation with Milo Mobile today.